The first version of a product doesn’t have to be perfect.
But the first users should still have a great experience.
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The purpose of launching an early first version is to help collect feedback for tweaking the product and guiding development. Teams hope that the first users will show where the product creates maximum value.
However, if the first users have a bad experience and don’t find value (can’t solve their problem better than with the alternatives), then the only thing you will learn… is that your product doesn’t create value.
Make sure that these first users get the outcomes they hoped for. That’s the only way to understand how your product fits into their lives and how to better provide value to more people.
There are two keys to keeping the user experience great even in early product versions:
1. Reduce your scope.
Build “a social network for one university” instead of “a social network for the whole world” (Facebook first version vs. Facebook now).
Build “the best way to buy books online” instead of “the best way to buy anything online” (Amazon first version vs. Amazon now).
Build “food delivery for a few households” as opposed to “food delivery for the whole town” (Grubhub first version vs. Grubhub now).
Even if you have big ambitions, starting small and focusing on a niche will increase the chances of a great experience for first users.
2. Use people.
Superhuman’s founder onboarded the first customers himself to make sure they understand the value of the product and use it properly.
Early versions of GoPractice products are delivered through Google Docs. The product is still raw at that point of course. So to make sure that the student gets the desired outcome, we teach in very small groups or 1-on-1. These first students provide the feedback needed to make the product truly great.
And here is an excellent illustration of this approach from Figma’s team: